KNOXVILLE — Firefighters can rest better after building a sleeping room in the city’s firehouse. They also feel better about themselves and their workplace, Knoxville Fire Department leaders said.
“Not only did we get a sleep room, we got a bonding experience,” Capt. Brian Houser said.
Firefighters worked together, volunteering to keep the project going up to 18 hours a day, he said.
“We started on a Monday afternoon. We were sleeping in it by Friday,” Capt. Jeff DeVoll added. “You wouldn’t believe how many people we had here working on it. Everybody pitched in and helped.
“That made it ours. It was the first project within the station that we all did together that was for us. That kind of made it seem more like our fire station.”
The 12-by-20-foot room in the southwest corner of the station’s garage sleeps four. Prior to creating it, firefighters mostly chose between sleeping on a makeshift bunkbed in a hallway, dragging a mattress to the floor or sacking out in a recliner.
“It’s way better than sleeping on the floor,” said Lt. Jac Agan. “If you’re over five-foot tall, you hung off the bunk bed.”
Agan, who easily surpasses that feet-dangling height, said he’s proud of the work he and others put into creating the room.
“The walls are insulated pretty well,” he said. “It’s nice and dark back there so you can get some good sleep.”
That’s important for crew members who work 24-hour shifts, DeVoll said. The room offers quiet in a busy, noisy building, he said. He, Houser and Capt. Trenton Bacus each work a shift once every three days.
“Imagine sleeping on the floor or in those chairs for one-third of your life, and then getting an actual bedroom,” he said. “That’s really the difference.”
The project also led KFD to use its space more efficiently. While its many vehicles are packed snugly into their bays, there was plenty of junk taking up floor space prior to the construction of the sleep room, DeVoll said.
“[Houser and Bacus] spent lot of time getting rid of stuff we’d had for 30 years and we haven’t used in 20,” DeVoll said.
There’s still room for storage. It’s just on top of the sleep room. A staircase was built along its eastern walls for toting supplies up and down.